Courts

Friday, March 22, 2019

ACLU Lawsuit Accuses St. Joseph Hospital of Transgender Discrimination (Updated with Statement from St. Joseph)

Posted By on Fri, Mar 22, 2019 at 9:12 AM

Oliver Knight - ACLU OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
  • ACLU of Northern California
  • Oliver Knight
UPDATE:
St. Joseph Health issued a brief statement last night in response to the civil rights lawsuit filed yesterday alleging transgender discrimination at its Eureka hospital, saying it takes the allegations "very seriously" and is committing its "full attention to investigating this matter."

"At St. Joseph Health, we believe health care is a basic human right and that every individual seeking care should always be treated with compassion and respect," the statement reads. "We have not had a chance to review the facts  of the case, but take these allegations very seriously. We are committing our full attention to investigating this matter."


PREVIOUSLY:
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit this morning alleging that St. Joseph Hospital violated the rights of a transgender man by refusing to perform a medically necessary surgery because of his gender identity.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of 29-year-old Oliver Knight, of Eureka, seeks unspecified damages and a court order that would prevent the hospital from discriminating against patients on the basis of gender identity or expression.

St. Joseph Hospital spokesperson Christian Hill indicated in an email to the Journal that the hospital is still in the process of “gathering details” about the lawsuit and “will communicate as appropriate with the media.”

According to the lawsuit, Knight was born with female anatomy but over time began to identify as male. He started taking social steps toward transitioning in 2013, such as wearing masculine clothing, and was subsequently diagnosed with gender dysphoria. He began hormone replacement therapy in 2015, had a bilateral mastectomy the following year and scheduled a hysterectomy at St. Joseph Hospital in 2017.

“Since I was a kid, I’ve felt like my body didn’t match my soul,” Knight wrote in a story posted to the ACLU website. “I felt uncomfortable in clothes. I felt disgusting when I showered. Everything felt wrong but it took me a while to figure out why.”

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , ,

Saturday, March 16, 2019

'This Doesn't End;' Hundreds Attend Vigils Demanding 'Justice for Josiah'

Posted By on Sat, Mar 16, 2019 at 3:30 PM

Charmaine Lawson is hugged by supporters shortly before addressing students, faculty and the community on the HSU Quad on Friday, the 23-month anniversary of the killing of her son, David Josiah Lawson. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Charmaine Lawson is hugged by supporters shortly before addressing students, faculty and the community on the HSU Quad on Friday, the 23-month anniversary of the killing of her son, David Josiah Lawson.

Red hats, scarfs and sweaters enveloped the exterior of the Humboldt County Courthouse and “Justice for Josiah” and “I stand with Charmaine Lawson” signs sat on the steps, as Lawson began to speak.

“We’re not going to stop fighting, this doesn’t end,” she said. “Thursday’s decision doesn’t end. Maggie Fleming, if you can hear me, you have me fighting harder. I’m fighting harder.”

Lawson’s son, David Josiah Lawson, a 19-year-old Humboldt State University sophomore, was fatally stabbed at an off-campus party April 15, 2017, reportedly after being in at least two physical altercations with a 23-year-old McKinleyville man, Kyle Zoellner. Zoellner was arrested at the scene but a Humboldt County Superior Court Judge dismissed the murder charge, finding there was insufficient evidence to hold him to stand trial.

MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
Last November, interim Chief of Police Richard Ehle turned the investigation over to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office, saying there was “unequivocal physical evidence” linking a specific suspect to the murder. But the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office sent out a press release on March 13, announcing a criminal grand jury declined to indict anyone in connection to Lawson’s stabbing and “therefore, no charges will be filed in this case.”

According to the press release, the grand jury made up of 19 jurors convened on Feb. 28 and heard testimony from 25 witnesses, including forensic experts and DNA evidence. The decision was later met with protest as a dozen people headed to the steps of the courthouse that night. Zoellner’s attorney also sent out a press release on his behalf, which you can see here.

The Friday night protest began with a song, “Amor Eterno,” played by Octavio Acosta, an HSU student. Then speakers, including Lawson, Eric Rydberg, Michihiro Clark Sugata, Mike Fennell and Shemya Vaughn, talked about their frustrations with the case and called for the community to make change and demand justice.

“We stand in front of a system that has failed,” Rydberg told the crowd. “We need to stand together in solidarity and demand justice. We’re going to stand with Charmaine and we’re not going to stop until we do.”
Charmaine Lawson calls on the community to continue to demand justice for her son. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Charmaine Lawson calls on the community to continue to demand justice for her son.
Fennell, who has grown close to the Lawson family and attended the preliminary hearing in the case, asked the white community to use its privilege to make change and also expressed the idea of recalling Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming. The crowd cheered.

“The hard work should really be on the white community up here, to help change, we can’t do it alone. It needs to be a collaboration,” Fennell said. “I think it’s time to consider a recall of our district attorney. … Even if the recall doesn’t work, we will weaken her chances in the next election.”

Before the protest ended, Lawson called up all current HSU students to stand with her at the top of the steps. Half of the crowd joined her.

“This is our future behind us,” Lawson said. “They are our future and we have to protect them. We cannot abandon them. … You all are destined for greatness and you will change the world.”
Humboldt State Student Janaee Sykes speaks to the crowd as Charmaine Lawson holds her hands. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Humboldt State Student Janaee Sykes speaks to the crowd as Charmaine Lawson holds her hands.
She then asked one of them to speak. Janaee Sykes, an HSU student and an acquaintance of Josiah’s, told the crowd to continue to fight for Josiah.

“I’m extremely disappointed,” Sykes told the Journal. “It hurts to know that he should be graduating. I just want the community to continue to support Charmaine. We owe it to her.”

Earlier in the day — in what was her first appearance in the county since the grand jury’s decision — Lawson had gone to HSU and spoke on the university quad about Fleming’s handling of the case..

“I’m am going die fighting for my son,” Lawson said. “I’m going to continue to fight.”

HSU University Police Chief Donn Peterson listens while Charmaine Lawson speaks of her son. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • HSU University Police Chief Donn Peterson listens while Charmaine Lawson speaks of her son.
In the quad, people were wiping and sniffling back tears as Lawson spoke about her son and told them stories about his character. Among the crowd stood HSU President Lisa Rossbacher, who, according to Lawson, called her Thursday and voiced genuine frustration and anger about the grand jury’s decision. Lawson then told the retiring Rossbacher not to abandon her son in the time she has left as president. She also urged the crowd to continue to fight for Josiah.

"Do not turn your back on him. Do not abandon him. Stand for him. Fight for him. Because this could have happened to anyone of you," Lawson said.

Lawson plans to attend HSU’s graduation in place of Josiah, who would have been in his last semester at the university. Until then, Lawson will continue to return to Humboldt to work on the Josiah scholarship and the housing program, “Josiah’s House.”

“Thank you all for coming out and supporting me,” she told the crowd last night in front of the courthouse. “If we have to go back to city council, so be it. If we need to shut if down, so be it. We’re not going anywhere. HSU students, I love you all and pray for your safety each and every time you leave campus, I pray for your safe return.”

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Friday, March 15, 2019

Attorney: Zoellner Thanks Jurors, Hopes Police Will Seek 'Truth' in Lawson Investigation

Posted By on Fri, Mar 15, 2019 at 4:53 PM

Kyle Zoellner's mug shot. - ARCATA POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Arcata Police Department
  • Kyle Zoellner's mug shot.
After a criminal grand jury targeting him opted not to issue an indictment, a McKinleyville man suspected in the stabbing death of David Josiah Lawson hopes the jury’s decision “will allow law enforcement to investigate the case from a new perspective and seek the truth,” according to a press release from his attorney.

“Kyle Zoellner would like to thank the jurors of Humboldt County for their consideration and commitment to finding the truth in the grand jury matter involving Josiah Lawson,” states the release from Deputy Public Defender Luke Brownfield. “Mr. Zoellner has now been prosecuted twice for a crime he did not commit. Each time the finder of fact has found that there is not even probable cause to believe Mr. Zoellner committed a crime.”

Since Arcata police arrived at the scene of a chaotic house party before dawn on April 15, 2017, to find Lawson, 19, bleeding from a multiple stab wounds, including one to the heart, Zoellner has been the prime suspect. Bloodied and bruised, reportedly from at least two separate fights with Lawson and his friends that night, he was arrested at the scene and charged with Lawson’s murder. But just weeks later, a Humboldt County Superior Court judge dismissed the case, finding prosecutors had failed to present enough evidence to hold him to stand trial on the charge.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Charmaine Lawson Vows to Keep Fighting for Son, Plans to Attend Tomorrow's Vigil

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2019 at 5:55 PM

Aunna Bowllmann holds a sign in front of the Humboldt County Courthouse yesterday, protesting a criminal grand jury's decision not to indict anyone in the unsolved killing of David Josiah Lawson. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Aunna Bowllmann holds a sign in front of the Humboldt County Courthouse yesterday, protesting a criminal grand jury's decision not to indict anyone in the unsolved killing of David Josiah Lawson.

The mother of slain Humboldt State University sophomore David Josiah Lawson says she won't give up in her quest to find justice for her son, despite yesterday's announcement that a criminal grand jury convened in the case declined to hand down indictments.


“I am heartbroken by the (grand jury's) decision, my family is heartbroken. We are devastated again,” Charmaine Lawson said in a voicemail left for the Journal. “I’m going to continue to fight for my son. I’m not going anywhere.”

A vigil is planned to commemorate the 23 month anniversary of Lawson's death tomorrow evening in front of the Humboldt County Courthouse. Charmaine Lawson said she plans to attend the vigil and hold a press conference in the near future.

Lawson, a 19-year-old HSU sophomore, was fatally stabbed at an off-campus party in Arcata on April 15, 2017. Kyle Zoellner, a 23 year old McKinleyville man, was arrested shortly after the stabbing but a judge later dismissed the murder charge facing him, citing insufficient evidence to hold him to stand trial.


Yesterday, the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office announced that a criminal grand jury decided not to indict anyone in connection with the stabbing after hearing testimony from more than two dozen witnesses.


The Justice for Josiah campaign sent the Journal a statement calling on community members to join the organization in front of the courthouse tomorrow at 5:30 p.m.

“If you are outraged, angered, saddened, numb or disheartened by the recent grand jury decision, take these emotions and propel them into action with us,” reads the statement, which is copied in its entirety below.



Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

APD Chief Vows to Keep Investigating Lawson Case Despite Grand Jury's Refusal to Indict

Posted By and on Wed, Mar 13, 2019 at 8:46 PM

David Josiah Lawson - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • David Josiah Lawson
Shortly after the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office announced this afternoon that a criminal grand jury had declined to indict anyone in connection with the 2017 stabbing death of David Josiah Lawson, Arcata Police Chief Brian Ahearn told the Journal that his department is committed to continuing its investigation into the 19 year old’s slaying.

Ahearn, who took over APD in January, roughly two months after APD turned its investigation over to the DA’s office, said his department has so far fallen short in providing prosecutors with the proof needed to hold somebody accountable in the case. But Ahearn pledged that APD will continue working the case, re-interviewing witnesses, identifying anyone with whom police have not yet spoken from the party where Lawson was stabbed, and returning to old leads. He added that, with the support of the DA’s office, no expense will be spared on the case.

“This case is solvable,” Ahearn said. “We are going to have justice and we are going to hold someone accountable.”

Lawson, a sophomore at Humboldt State University, was fatally stabbed at an off-campus party before dawn April 15, 2017, reportedly after being involved in at least two physical altercations with a McKinleyville man — Kyle Zoellner — and his female friends. Police arrested Zoellner at the scene but a murder charge against him was dismissed weeks later by a Humboldt County Superior Court judge who found there was insufficient evidence to hold him to stand trial.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Grand Jury Declines to Indict in Lawson Case

Posted By on Wed, Mar 13, 2019 at 4:32 PM

David Josiah Lawson - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • David Josiah Lawson
The Humboldt County District Attorney's Office announced this afternoon that a criminal grand jury convened to hear evidence in the stabbing death of David Josiah Lawson has declined to issue any indictments in the case.

According to the press release, the criminal grand jury convened Feb. 28 and heard testimony from 25 witnesses, including experts in forensics and DNA evidence.

Lawson, a 19-year-old Humboldt State University sophomore, was fatally stabbed April 15, 2017 at an off-campus party. A McKinleyville man, Kyle Zoellner, was arrested at the scene and charged with Lawson's murder but a judge later determined there was insufficient evidence to hold him to stand trial.

Reached by phone this afternoon, Lawson's mother, Charmaine Lawson, declined to comment but said she'll be in Humboldt County this weekend.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Hinson Guilty of Manslaughter in SoHum Beating Death

Posted By on Tue, Feb 26, 2019 at 5:35 PM

showimage.jpg
William Lamar Hinson III was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter “with the special allegation that he personally used a deadly weapon” in the 2015 killing Khan Lam in Garberville, according to a press release sent by the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.

Lam, 37, was involved in a physical altercation with a family member in downtown Garberville on July 18, 2015. Suddenly, four men, including Hinson, confronted Lam and started chasing him, leading to a head injury. Lam was sent to Garberville’s Jerold Phelps Community Hospital, then to a hospital out of the area to be treated for a brain injury when he was later taken off life support by his family.

It was first reported that Lam had fallen while being chased but his autopsy report stated his injuries were inconsistent with a fall, spawning the homicide investigation. The press release says that Hinson struck Lam on the head using a board, fracturing his skull.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office investigation resulted in Hinson’s arrest in late 2016.

“The prosecution of Mr. Hinson relied on several witnesses willing to come forward, speak with law enforcement and ultimately testify at trial,” the press release said.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

California, 15 Other States Sue Trump Over 'Manufactured' Crisis

Posted By on Tue, Feb 19, 2019 at 12:20 PM

gavel.jpg
Sixteen states, including California, are suing the Trump administration over the border national emergency declaration, filing a complaint Monday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The states are alleging that Trump’s move is “unlawful and unconstitutional” and based on a “manufactured ‘crisis’” despite evidence that unlawful border entries are at a 20-year low, immigrants are less likely than to commit crime and illegal drugs are usually smuggled via official ports of entry.

“He is willing to manipulate the Office of the Presidency to engage in unconstitutional theatre performed to convince his audience that he is committed to his ‘beautiful’ border wall,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a Feb. 18 press release.

“Today, on Presidents Day, we take President Trump to court to block his misuse of presidential power. We’re suing President Trump to stop him from unilaterally robbing taxpayer funds lawfully set aside by Congress for the people of our states. For most of us, the Office of the Presidency is not a place for theatre.” he continued.


Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Brown Commutes Sentences of Two Local Women Convicted of Murder

Posted By on Thu, Dec 27, 2018 at 4:05 PM

Gov. Jerry Brown - OFFICE OF THE GOVENOR
  • Office of the Govenor
  • Gov. Jerry Brown
Among the 131 people who had their criminal sentences commuted by Gov. Jerry Brown on Christmas Eve was Dianna Mae Preston, a Trinidad woman who came to be known as the “vigilante granny” for chasing down and fatally shooting a Eureka man she wrongly believed had molested her granddaughter.

Brown set a record for pardons and commutations handed out during his term in office, with this latest round containing two other Humboldt County cases, including another murder.

With Brown’s action, Preston will become eligible to apply for release from prison. She had been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole after being found guilty of first degree murder, premeditated murder with the special allegation of lying in wait and using a firearm in commission of a felony in 2003.

“I have spent 15 years in prison and at 73 I am no longer the same person I was all those years ago,” Preston wrote in her application to the governor. “I know what I did was wrong, and nothing can truly compensate for the life I took. But I continue to try to make amends in the only was possible, which is living every day as a better person than I was then.”

Wearing a wig and sunglasses, Preston ambushed Kevin R. LaPorta outside of his Eureka acupuncture business in July of 2002, shooting him several times as he reportedly begged for his life before reloading her weapon as he fled into a Chinese restaurant, where she followed him inside to fire the fatal shots, according to media reports at the time.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Before the $4.7 Billion Baby Powder Verdict, There Was One in Humboldt

Posted By on Wed, Dec 26, 2018 at 2:31 PM

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • wikimedia commons
By now, you’ve probably heard about Reuters’ investigative bombshell showing that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that its baby powder contained asbestos while the company publicly insisted on the “safety and purity” of its iconic product.

If this is news to you, check out the story here, which relies on scores of interviews and internal company documents. Johnson and Johnson currently faces more than 11,000 plaintiffs in a swath of lawsuits who allege the company’s talc contained asbestos and caused their ovarian cancers and mesotheliomas. And this is after a July verdict in Missouri that awarded $4.7 billion in damages to 22 women suffering from ovarian cancer, which came about a year after a California jury awarded $417 million to another woman with ovarian cancer.

Johnson and Johnson has denied the allegations — and Reuters’ report — saying that decades of scientific testing and regulatory approvals show its talc to be safe and asbestos free.

But wading through all this reporting, what you probably won’t see is that just last month a Humboldt County jury cleared Johnson and Johnson of liability in a lawsuit brought by Carla Allen, who alleged her mesothelioma — a tissue cancer closely linked to asbestos exposure — was caused by prolonged use of Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Powder. The case had caused significant interest in the Humboldt County Courthouse, spanning seven weeks and featuring a variety of out-of-town lawyers.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , ,

Recent Comments

socialize

Facebook | Twitter

© 2019 North Coast Journal

Website powered by Foundation